Florida-Florida St. Preview

Dominating opponents on the defense end, Florida is looking more

and more like one of the best teams in the country.

The same can’t be said for a Florida State program coming off

one of its more embarrassing results in recent memory.

The No. 6 Gators try for a fourth consecutive victory over the

rival Seminoles, who hope to avoid losing three straight at home

for the first time in five seasons.

Second nationally with 48.5 points allowed per game, Florida has

outscored foes by an average of 25.3 during its 6-0 start – its

best since opening 8-0 in 2009-10.

With an impressive 74-56 win over then-No. 22 Wisconsin already

under their belts, the Gators made another big statement Thursday

against Marquette, limiting the Golden Eagles to a season-low 41.2

percent shooting in an 82-49 rout.

“I’ve never been beat this bad in my entire career – 179 games

as a head coach,” said Marquette’s Buzz Williams, whose team was

outrebounded 37-23. “That’s the worst loss. Not close. I think

they’re good enough to win the whole thing.”

While Florida continues to roll, Florida State (4-3) finds

itself in a state of disarray. The defending ACC tournament

champion dropped out of the AP Top 25 after a season-opening 76-71

loss to South Alabama, then went on to win four straight before

posting their two lowest-scoring outputs of the season.

Florida State fell 77-68 to then-No. 21 Minnesota on Nov. 27 and

shot a season-worst 35.4 percent Sunday in a shocking 61-56 loss to

Mercer.

“There’s no reason we should be losing to Mercer at home,”

senior Michael Snaer told the school’s official website. “We don’t

want to do that.”

Snaer, who leads the team with 14.1 points per game, was limited

to a season-low seven on 2-of-6 shooting. Junior Okaro White was

the only Seminoles player to score in double figures with 14.

“That energy, that intensity, that junkyard-dog mentality that

has been the characteristic of our team the last several years

seems to be missing from this team,” coach Leonard Hamilton

said.

Given the way things have gone of late, Hamilton knows the

Seminoles could be in for another long night Wednesday. Florida

State has been outscored by an average of 12.6 points during its

skid against Florida.

“That’s a challenge for us to right the ship before they come to

town,” Hamilton said. “Whether we can correct everything, probably

not. But I just think if we play up to our potential and the

execution of our defensive and offensive schemes, and if we can be

consistent with that, then we’ll take what happens after that.”

Florida had dropped three straight at Florida State before

pulling out a 55-51 victory Nov. 28, 2010. The last three matchups

in Tallahassee have been decided by a combined 10 points.

“It’s a rivalry game and they are going to be ready to play no

matter what, no matter how many games they have lost,” forward Will

Yeguete told Florida’s official website. “We are ranked pretty high

and that’s going to give them a chance to get a good win for their

resume.”

While the Gators are looking forward to their first true road

game, they could be short-handed with senior Erik Murphy uncertain

to play due to a hip pointer. He’s averaging 12.3 points and 4.2

rebounds.

“This is our first road test,” guard Mike Rosario said. “We’ve

just got to be in tune with what’s going on with our team and

focused on what (coach Billy Donovan) is telling us to do. I feel

like the guys are ready.”